3 chosen as UAB VIPs for fourth-quarter 2022

uab vip award squareNominations for first-quarter 2023 honorees are open through Feb. 28; submit a nomination online.Tatyana Gavrikova, researcher in the Department of Medicine in the Heersink School of Medicine; Sherry Polhill, associate vice president for Hospital Laboratories, Respiratory Care and Pulmonary Function Services for UAB Hospital; and Aparna Tamhane, program director in the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center and director of the Protocol Review and Monitoring Committee, are the fourth-quarter 2022 honorees for the UAB Shared Values in Action Program. The UAB VIP Awards honor employees whose work exemplifies and embodies one or more of the university’s shared values — integrity, stewardship, collaboration, accountability, respect, excellence and achievement, and diversity and inclusiveness.

Honorees are nominated by their colleagues and selected by a committee of individuals from across the campus and UAB Hospital. Nominations for first-quarter 2023 honorees are open through Feb. 28; submit a nomination online. One of 12 VIP honorees throughout the year will be selected for the new President’s Award for Excellence in Shared Values.

Tatyana Gavrikova

Tatyana Gavrikova squareTatyana GavrikovaGavrikova has proven herself an instrumental part of the team in the Division of Infectious Diseases laboratories. During the last few years, she has taken on new duties throughout the pandemic and spearheaded innovations within the department. 

“Everything Tatyana undertakes is done at the highest level and she hold others accountable to the same level of excellence,” said Paula Dixon, manager and clinical research administrator in the Department of Medicine.

In addition to her work duties, Dixon said Gavrikova makes time to check on her co-workers and see how they are doing.

“She always will listen to your work dilemmas and find a solution,” Dixon said. "And she does not ever forget a birthday for anyone.”

Gavrikova is also happy to share her experience and expertise with co-workers, “even if this means she stays late to help others complete their work to get out the results,” Dixon added.

Beginning in 2019, Gavrikova led efforts to transform the lab into a Green Lab. She started a laboratory recycling center, encouraged education among staff and coordinated temperature changes in their freezers, resulting in substantial energy savings. Gavrikova was recognized for her efforts at the International Institute for Sustainable Labs Conference in October 2022 and featured in an article in Lab Manager Magazine, and according to Dixon, Gavrikova was instrumental in the Infectious Disease Laboratory receiving the Winning Streak Award from the My Green Lab organization in 2022, for saving 168 kilowatt-hours per day, which is the equivalent of six homes worth of energy.

Sherry Polhill

Sherry Polhill squareSherry PolhillRespiratory care has been a difficult area since the arrival of the pandemic in 2020. Polhill has worked tirelessly to help her department and the people that keep it running overcome the challenges that came with COVID.

“Sherry's ability to stabilize the department through the unprecedented challenges of COVID were only possible because of the foundational trust and respect the team had for her before the pandemic,” said Jordan Demoss, vice president for Clinical Operations for UAB Medicine.

Respiratory therapists, like all front-line workers, faced endlessly increasing demands. Polhill, with the Respiratory Care leadership team, developed an innovative solution to aid the overwhelmed staff.

“[They] reached out to the EMT community who are trained on airway management to complement the traditional Registered and Certified Therapist roles with EMTs,” Demoss explained.

Polhill is committed to collaboration, Demoss continues.

“She never approaches a challenge or problem to solve without being intentional in understanding perspectives and connecting with people to build relationships,” he said.  “Sherry makes hard decisions but does so in a way that honors individual perspectives and differences in opinion.

“Sherry epitomizes all of our shared values not only professionally, but also personally in her life.”

Aparna Tamhane

Aparna Tamhane squareAparna TamhaneThe pandemic dramatically impacted nearly every facet of the medical community — including clinical trials. In her role, Aparna Tamhane demonstrated great flexibility in the face of obstacles and the ability to find creative solutions.

The PRMC reviews scientific merit and feasibility of studies and trials conducted at the OCCC, ensuring that individuals seeing novel cancer therapies have opportunities to access those trials. According to Charles A. Leath, M.D., committee chair, Tamhane worked diligently to keep OCCC’s clinical trials going, converting the committee’s in-person, paper-based review process to a fully online process that “ensured safety … and allowed continued functionality of our committee,” he said.

The PRMC also has a role in obtaining grants for the OCCC. Tamhane’s tireless work “allowed the PRMC to be well positioned and prepared for its role in the OCCC Core Grant Renewal with the National Cancer Institute,” Leath said. 

“Moreover, our review was the most favorable in the 50 years of review at UAB, and judged as ‘outstanding’ with the highest impact score in our history by the National Cancer Institute.”